BBC News 1999: Beatles lyrics last a lifetime

Wednesday, April 21, 1999

Songs by the Beatles came out top in a national poll

The Beatles' Love Me Do still rings true for music fans whereas the Spice Girls' Wannabe just doesn't make the grade.
A poll for the National Year of Reading found the lyrics by groups like The Beatles and Abba are still more popular than words written by more recent pop artists.

"The Beatles are a Shakespeare for the 20th century," said Helen Reddington, lecturer in commercial music at the University of Westminster.

The Spice Girls polled 2% of the vote
"Their appeal spans generations and their lyrics are as accessible today as they were 30 years ago to a different generation."

The Beatles gained 31% of votes in the country-wide survey for songs such as Eleanor Rigby, When I'm Sixty-Four and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.

Abba, famous for hits such as Waterloo, Money, Money, Money and Dancing Queen polled 17%.

The project director of the National Year of Reading, Liz Attenborough, said: "This survey shows just how much people really enjoy reading and understanding good lyrics and think about the words and meaning of songs, as well as the music.

"There are some truly inspiring lyrics in songs of past and present - if you look closely at some of the most popular lyrics, they can quite justifiably be described as modern poetry."

Robbie Williams championed the cause of modern music, trailing Abba by just 1% but the Spice Girls and fellow all-girl band All Saints pulled in 2% of the vote each and Madonna had 5%.

One 1960s great who was considered a true poet but did not make it to the top was Bob Dylan, who won 10% of the vote.

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